Presentation: WebAssembly (And the Death of JavaScript?)

Track: JavaScript and Beyond: The Future of the Frontend

Location: Windsor, 5th flr.

Duration: 2:55pm - 3:45pm

Day of week: Tuesday

Level: Advanced

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JavaScript brought interactivity to the web more than 20 years ago, and despite numerous challengers, it is still the only language supported by browser. However, as those 20 years have passed we've moved from adding a little interactivity to largely static sites, to creating complex JavaScript-heavy single page applications. Throughout this journey, the way we use JavaScript itself has also changed. Gone are the days of writing simple code snippets that are run directly in the browser. Nowadays we transpile, minify, tree-shake and more, treating the JavaScript virtual machine as a compilation target.

The problem is, JavaScript isn't a very good compilation target, because it simply wasn't designed to be one.

This talk will look at what's wrong with the way we are using JavaScript today and why we need WebAssembly. It will delve into the internals, giving a quick tour of the WebAssembly instruction set, memory and security model, before moving on to the more practical aspects of using it with Rust, C++ and JavaScript. Finally we'll do some crystal-ball gazing and see what the future might hold for this rapidly evolving technology, and ask the question - “Is WebAssembly going to kill JavaScript?”


What is the focus of your work today?


I’m the Technology Director of Scott Logic, a UK-based consultancy that provides bespoke software solutions for our financial services clients. The main focus of my day-to-day work is meeting with clients, understanding their problems, and finding ways in which they can capitalise on new tools and technologies.


What’s the motivation for this talk?


The web has become a critical part of application delivery for everyone within financial services, both commercial and retail. However, it is still a challenging platform when building mission-critical, complex line-of-business applications.

I personally think that WebAssembly is the start of a revolution, it is going to shake up the way in which we deliver applications on the web, opening up new opportunities, solving some of the current issues. Ultimately it might herald the end of JavaScript’s dominance on the web (and beyond).


How you you describe the persona and level of the target audience?


The talk should have quite broad appeal - part of what makes WebAssembly interesting is that it allows a wide range of languages to target the web as first-class citizens. For that reason this talk should be of interest to JavaScript, Rust, C#, Java and C++ developers.


What do you want “that” persona to walk away from your talk knowing that they might not have known 50 minutes before?


I’d like them to walk away with a better idea of what is possible now with WebAssembly, what will be possible in the future, and how this will shape the web.

Speaker: Colin Eberhardt

Technology Director @Scott_Logic

I’m the Technology Director at Scott Logic, a UK-based software consultancy where we create complex application for our financial services clients. I’m an avid technology enthusiast, spending my evenings contributing to open source projects, writing blog posts and learning as much as I can. You can find me online @ColinEberhardt.

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